Turkey, Israel are close to reach agreement to mend ties

Turkish and Israeli top negotiators move toward final phase of talks to resolve differences and restore ties that severely broken over 2010 Mavi Marmara incident

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) receives representatives from Jewish Societies during a meeting at St. Regis Hotel in Washington D.C, USA on March 30, 2016.

Updated Apr 9, 2016

Turkish and Israeli teams made progress towards finalising an agreement to mend ties between the two countries in talks indicating that they will reach a deal in the next meeting to be convened very soon, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, Feridun Sinirlioglu, the Israeli prime minister's special envoy Joseph Ciechanover and acting chairman of Israel's National Security Council, General Jacob Nagel, met in London on Thursday, the Turkish ministry said in a statement.

"The teams made progress towards finalising the agreement and closing the gaps, and agreed that the deal will be finalised in the next meeting which will be convened very soon," the ministry said.

Turkey was once Israel's closest regional ally, but ties collapsed in 2010 over the killing of 10 Turkish activists by Israeli marines who were on board of the Mavi Marmara aid ship that had tried to break down the Gaza blockade of Israel.

The Mavi Marmara was a Comoros-flagged passenger ship owned by a Turkish NGO - the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) - and was one of the six civilian ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla targeted by an Israeli military operation on May 31, 2010.

The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla took place in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara in a bungled raid, and a tenth activist later died from heavy wounds.

The flotilla was set up by an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement, which included the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and the IHH. Its aim was announced to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was strengthened in 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza.

Turkish Foreign Ministry did not say what type of deal will take effect, but Ankara has insisted that there can be no normalisation in ties with Israel unless its conditions for ending the Gaza blockade and compensation for the deaths of the activists are met.

The Israeli government, following a telephone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, and then-Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, apologised to Turkey in March 2013.

The Israelis also offered $20 million in compensation for the attack and eased its blockade on the Gaza Strip following the incident.

Turkish Foreign Ministry in late July confirmed a secret meeting in the Italian capital, Rome, between Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold and Sinirlioglu to resume talks for a reconciliation agreement.

The ministry stated at the time that there had previously been talks between Israel and Turkey for the sake of normalising relations and Israel has already known the Turkish stance, which is as clear as possible concerning ties.

Erdogan also called a normalisation between the countries in December emphasising that restoring ties would be good for the entire region. 

TRTWorld and agencies